Soil Retrogression and Degradation - Influence of Human Activity

Influence of Human Activity

Erosion is the main factor for soil degradation and is due to several mechanisms: water erosion, wind erosion, chemical degradation and physical degradation.

Erosion is strongly related to human activity. For example, roads which increase impermeable surfaces lead to streaming and ground loss. Agriculture also accelerates soil erosion (increase of field size, correlated to hedges and ditches removal). Meadows are in regression to the profit of plowed lands. Spring cultures (sunflower, corn, beet) surfaces are increasing and leave the ground naked in winter. Sloping grounds are gradually colonized by vine. Lastly, use of herbicides leaves the ground naked between each crop. New cultural practices, such as mechanization also increases the risks of erosion. Fertilization by mineral manures rather than organic manure gradually destructure the soil. Many scientistsobserved a gradual decrease of soil organic matter content in soils, as well as a decrease of soil biological activity (in particular, in relation to chemical uses). Lastly, deforestation, in particular, is responsible for degradation of forest soils.

Agriculture increases the risk of erosion through its disturbance of vegetation by way of:

  • overgrazing of animals
  • planting of a monoculture
  • row cropping
  • tilling or plowing
  • crop removal
  • land-use conversion

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